A lot of people may dream of having a six pack, or even just flattening their stomach pooch slightly, but don't know where to start to get results. Is it really as simple as doing 100 crunches a day? Or do you need a gym membership and a certified personal trainer?
If you’ve been wondering how to tone and strengthen your abs in the most effective way, we’ve got you covered. We've compiled a list of the best ab workouts you can do. The best part? You can do them all from home.
Yes, it's definitely possible! You don’t need a gym or a personal trainer to achieve your core goals. You can execute strength training ab exercises from the comfort of your own home with great results, and little to no equipment required.
The most efficient ab exercises are those that are executed properly, so make sure you understand the proper form needed for the exercises below (regardless of your location).
We've rounded up a list of good core exercises for abs that are effective and will help you build a strong abdominal foundation.
We definitely recommend trying a traditional plank first, before moving on to the side plank position.
An elbow crunch plank is a great way to add an extra challenge to your ab exercises once you’ve mastered the traditional plank and side plank.
Bicycle crunches are a fairly low-impact exercise, but research has shown they are one of the most effective ab exercises you can do.
Glute bridges are also low-impact and pretty attainable for the average beginner. The next time you're watching TV, do some during the ad breaks.
This exercise helps particularly when it comes to balance. It might be challenging to get the hang of at first, but you'll find it gets easier the stronger your core muscles become.
While a typical crunch is effective, a reverse crunch is great for working the transverse abdominal muscles (aka lower belly fat).
Ab exercises provide a number of health benefits. Strengthening your core can help improve your posture, balance, and stability. Good posture is important to avoid serious or chronic back pain (especially as you age). Balance and stability is important not only for day-to-day activities, but it can help improve your overall fitness performance with other sports and exercises.
It’s important to note that ab exercises alone will not help you lose weight. If you're looking to reduce your body fat percentage, you need to do more. Working your abs will help strengthen your core muscles, training abs alone is not effective in decreasing abdominal fat, per a 2011 study.
While a strong core is important for your overall wellbeing, that’s why it’s so important to incorporate strength training and cardio exercises into your regular fitness routine, in addition to proper nutrition, for the best results.
Whether you're a man looking for washboard abs or a woman looking to flatten her stomach pooch post-pregnancy, abs are abs. That means whatever exercises are good for abdominal muscles are good for both men and women. If the suggestions above aren't cutting it for you, and you're looking for more, here's another list of ab exercises to consider:
For best results, and to avoid injury, train your abs two to three times per week. Any more and you may risk your progress if you sustain an injury that sidelines you for some time.
Don’t expect to get six pack abs from crunches alone! The best ab workouts for beginners require more than just one repetitive motion, so incorporate the above at-home abs exercises into your routine to work both your upper abs and lower abs for best results.
Do watch your diet. The most effective abdominal exercises alone will not help you reach your goals, what you eat matters, too! Limit your intake of sugary drinks, fried foods, and simple carbs when trying to tone your abs, as these types of foods can interfere with your progress when training your core.
Do give yourself a rest day. No matter how much you want a strong core, you don’t have to train your abs every single day! Doing so can lead to strain, and if you injure yourself, you risk not being able to meet your goals within your desired timeline.
Do other training. Even when trying to achieve the best abs, remember, it’s important to work in other types of training at the same time. Aerobic exercise, like running or biking, and training other muscle groups, like your upper body and lower body, are essential even when you’re focusing on your core.
Don’t forget to stretch before and after your workout! Stretching helps loosen your muscles to prepare them for exercise and ensures proper cool down for recovery.
While most of the exercises we’ve shared above require little to no equipment, some basic home equipment can help you enhance your workouts — and provide a bit more of a challenge as you begin to build your strength.
Here’s what we recommend:
Your nutrition is key when it comes to achieving your fitness goals, including abs, and what you eat is just as important as having a regular exercise routine.
In order to achieve your goals, keep these basic nutrition tips in mind.
What to Eat
Pile your plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Protein and lean meats are also very important when it comes to building muscle. You'll want to make sure you're eating about one gram of protein per pound of body weight every day. So, if you weigh 150 pounds you should aim to eat 150 grams of protein daily.
It can be difficult to get enough protein from just things like meat, beans, and nuts alone. Remember that foods like cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, and quinoa also have a lot of protein. Try adding a protein shake to your daily routine too (this is especially great as a pre- or post-workout snack). Check out these delicious smoothie recipes from some of Playbook's top creators.
What to Avoid
You should be limiting your intake of anything processed. This means trying your best to limit items like soda, chips, fast food, and packaged sweets. You should also avoid simple carbs like white bread or pasta, and instead opt for the whole wheat and whole grain alternatives.
Take a Nutrition 101 Course
The information above is a basic overview. There is so much more information out there when it comes to nutrition — how to count your macros, understanding nutrients and serving sizes, and more. Playbook has developed a multi-series nutrition course on the app designed to help you understand the fundamentals and use that to reach your goals, whatever they may be. If you're already an app subscriber, you can check it out here. Or, sign up for the app here to get started today.
While supplements are not necessary, incorporating the following ones into your routine may help you achieve the results you desire:
As always, you should consult your doctor or a medical professional before adding a new supplement into your diet. This article is for informational purposes only and does not serve as medical advice.
There are so many Playbook creators who have core training workouts. Whether it's a full-length strength training abs exercises or a quick 10-minute core burn, you can find a workout that fits your needs and your style.
Here are just some of our favorites you can check out:
All of these ab exercises can be done from just about anywhere — so whether you’re traveling and on the go, don’t have access to a gym, or simply prefer to workout from the comfort of your own home, you have the best abs workouts to strengthen that core!
About the author
Cara is a passionate writer and editor with more than 10 years of experience in print and online media. She loves storytelling and believes that words have the power to change the world. In her free time, Cara is an avid reader, enjoys meditating, and loves spending time with her husband and their chihuahua pug mix, Callie, streaming the latest horror flick or true crime documentary. She is a graduate of Michigan State University's School of Journalism.